Religions exists to help people find meaning within themselves and in the outside world. There are hundreds of religions in the world today. For more info about Religious Distinctions, see below.
Living in a diverse community requires all of us to conduct ourselves with respect and inclusion of people with different beliefs and lifestyles than we have. Undoubtedly, we will have interactions with people of other faiths. For more info on Religious Interactions, see below.
People make religious assumptions based on individual experience or stereotypical conditioning. For more info on Religious Microaggressions, see below.
Atheism refers to either the absence of a belief in the existence of deities or to an active belief that deities do not exist. This belief system rejects theology as well as the constructs of organized religion. Use of the term originated in the ancient world and was meant to degrade those who rejected commonly accepted religious precepts. It was first self-applied during the Age of Enlightenment in 18th century France.
Bahá’í faith is essentially a spiritual ideology that teaches the value of all religions, espousing the importance of universal equality and unity. Bahá’u’lláh, the founding figure in the Bahá’í faith, officially established his ideology in 1863 in Persia (or modern-day Iran). As something of a hybrid of other faiths, Bahá’í grew out of the tradition of Babism, which itself emerged from an Islamic denomination called Shaykhism. (Today, Babism exists with a few thousand adherents, concentrated largely in Iran, and standing separately from the Islamic ideologies that surround it.) Like Babism, Bahá’í incorporates some of the teachings of Islam but merges them with some Christian principles. The central governing body of the Bahá’í faith, a nine-member council called the Universal House of Justice, operates from Haifa, Israel. Today, the Bahá’í faith has somewhere between five and seven million adherents around the world.
Buddhism is both a religion and philosophy. The traditions and beliefs surrounding Buddhism can be traced to the original teachings of Gautama Buddha, a sagely thinker who is believed to have lived between the fourth and sixth centuries BCE. The Buddha lived and taught in the eastern part of ancient India, providing the template for a faith based on the ideas of moral rectitude, freedom from material attachment or desire, the achievement of peace and illumination through meditation, and a life dedicated to wisdom, kindness, and compassion.
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth. Christianity teaches that Jesus is the Son of God and the Messiah (the savior of humanity foretold in the Torah, the primary scriptural doctrine of the Jewish faith). Christian scripture incorporates both the Torah (referred to by Christians as the Old Testament) with the story of Jesus, his teachings, and those of his contemporaneous disciples (the New Testament). These form the Bible, the central text of the Christian faith. Christianity began in Jerusalem as an outgrowth of Judaism that considered Jesus the Christ (meaning “anointed one”). This idea and its adherents spread rapidly through ancient Judea around the first century CE, then throughout the ancient world.
Confucianism was a dominant form of philosophy and religious orientation in ancient China, one that emerged from the teachings of Chinese philosopher Confucius, who lived 551–479 BCE. Confucius viewed himself as a channel for the theological ideas emerging from the imperial dynasties that came before him. With an emphasis on family and social harmony, Confucianism was a distinctly humanist and even secularist religious ideology. Confucianism had a profound impact on the development of Eastern legal customs and the emergence of a scholar class (and with it, a meritocratic way of governing).
Druze refers to an Arabic ethnoreligious group that originated in and still largely inhabits the Mountain of Druze region in southern Syria. Despite a small population of adherents, the Druze nonetheless play an important role in the development of their region (known in historical shorthand as the Levant). The Druze view themselves as the direct descendants of Jethro of Midian, distinguished in Jewish scripture as the father-in-law of Moses. The Druze consider Jethro a “hidden” prophet, one through whom God spoke to “revealed prophet” Moses.
Gnosticism likely refers not to a single religious orientation but to an “interreligious phenomenon” in which various groups across an array of regions evolved to a similar set of beliefs and ideas. A term adapted in modern historical discourse, gnosticism concerns the variety of religious systems and beliefs in the ancient world that emerged from the Judeo-Christian tradition. These belief systems held that emanations from a single God were responsible for the creation of the material world and that, as such, all humans carried the divine spark of God. Gnosticism is dualistic and draws sharp divides between the superior spiritual world and the inferior material world, with the gaining or receiving of special, hidden knowledge (“gnosis”) allowing transcendence from one realm to another. Emerging in the first century CE — in close concert with the emergence of Christianity — gnosticism is perhaps best understand as the intermediary set of ideas shared by portions of the world as Christianity gradually eclipsed Judaism in size and scope.
Hinduism is regarded by some as the world’s oldest religion, likely dating back to what is known on the Indian subcontinent as the Vedic age. During this period, 1500–600 BCE, civilization transitioned from tribal and pastoral living into settled and agricultural living. From this emerged social classes, state-entities, and monarchies. The primary texts retelling this period of history are called the Vedas and would significantly inform the so-called Hindu Synthesis.
Islam is a monotheistic religion that — like Christianity and Judaism — traces its roots to the Garden of Eden, Adam, and the prophet Abraham. Islam teaches that Allah is the only God and that Muhammed is his messenger. Islam holds that God spoke to Muhammed through the archangel Gabriel some time around 600 CE, delivering the revelations that would form the Quran. This primary text of the Islamic faith is believed by adherents to contain the exact words of God and therefore provides a full and nonnegotiable blueprint for how to live.
Jainism is an ancient Indian religion that — according to its adherents — can be traced through a succession of 24 sagely teachers. The first of these teachers is thought to have been Rishabhanatha, who lived millions of years ago. Jainism’s primary tenets are ahiṃsā (nonviolence), anekāntavāda (many-sidedness), aparigraha (nonattachment) and asceticism (abstinence from pleasure). These and other concepts are outlined in the Acaranga Sutra, the oldest of the Jainist scriptures.
Judaism is one of the oldest monotheistic world religions, among the first ethnoreligious groups to move away from idolatry or paganism and toward the recognition of a single deity. Judaism is said to have begun with the figure of Abraham, a man living in the Land of Canaan — a geographical expanse likely encompassing portions of Phoenicia, Philistia, and Israel. In the Tanakh — the body of Jewish scripture which includes a foundational text called The Torah, and later supplemental texts call the Midrash and the Talmud — it is said that God spoke to Abraham and commanded him to recognize the singularity and omnipotence of God. Abraham accepted, becoming the father not just of Judaism but of the various monotheistic (or Abrahamic) religions that followed.
Rastafarianism is a newer religious movement that follows in the Abrahamic tradition of monotheism, referring to the singular deity as Jah. Rastafari hold the Christian Bible as their primary scripture but offer an interpretation highly connected to their own political and geographical realities. Centered around early 20th century Jamaica, Rastafarianism emerged as a ethnocultural reaction to British occupation and oppression. This oppression would play a major role in the Afrocentric interpretation of the Bible favored by Rastafari.
Shinto is religious tradition native to Japan. Initially an informal collection of beliefs and mythologies, Shinto was less a religion than a distinctly Japanese form of cultural observance. The first recorded use of the term Shinto can be traced to the sixth century CE and is essentially the connective tissue between ancient Japanese customs and modern Japanese life. The primary focus of Shinto is the native belief in kami (spirits) and interaction with them through public shrines.
Sikhism is a monotheistic faith emerging from and remaining concentrated in the Punjabi region that traverses Northern India and Eastern Pakistan. The Sikh religion came into focus during the late 15th century and draws its tenets of faith, meditation, social justice, and human equality from a scripture called the Guru Granth Sahib.
Zoroastrianism is considered one of the world’s oldest religions, and some of its earliest ideas — messianism, posthumous judgment, and the duality of heaven and hell — are believed to have informed the evolution of Judaism, as well as Gnosticism, Christianity, and Islam. Its founding figure, Zoroaster, was an innovative religious thinker and teacher who is believed to have lived between 700 BCE and 500 BCE in Persia (modern-day Iran). Its primary text, the Avesta, combines the Gathas (Zoroaster’s writings) with the Yasna (the scriptural basis of Zoroastrianism). Zoroaster’s influence loomed large in his time and place. In fact, Zoroastrianism was soon adopted as the official state religion of the Persian Empire and remained so for nearly a thousand years.
Traditional African Religions - Countless religious traditions inform the inhabitants of the African continent, each with its own distinct practices and beliefs based on region and ethnicity. Because Africa contains diverse people groups, and their religions remain deeply tied to geography and tribal lands, the continent’s history is a tapestry of distinct spiritual traditions. Many share common threads, including the belief in spirits, respect for the dead, and the importance of the intersection between humanity and nature. Also common: many of these religions rely on oral history and tradition, rather than scriptures. Though Christianity and Islam are today the dominant religious traditions in Africa, informal estimates place the number of adherents to Traditional African Religions at 100 million.
Bushongo mythology (Congo)
Lugbara mythology (Congo)
Baluba mythology (Congo)
Mbuti mythology (Congo)
Akamba mythology (Kenya)
Lozi mythology (Zambia)
Tumbuka mythology (Malawi)
Zulu mythology (South Africa)
Dinka religion (South Sudan)
Hausa animism (Chad, Gabon)
Lotuko mythology (South Sudan)
Maasai mythology (Kenya, Tanzania, Ouebian)
Kalenjin religion(Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania)
Dini Ya Msambwa (Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Kenya)
San religion (South Africa)
Traditional healers of South Africa
Manjonjo Healers of Chitungwiza of Zimbabwe
Akan religion (Ghana, Ivory Coast)
Dahomean religion (Benin, Togo)
Efik mythology (Nigeria, Cameroon)
Edo religion (Benin kingdom, Nigeria)
Hausa animism (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria, Togo)
Odinani (Igbo people, Nigeria)
Serer religion (Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania)
Yoruba religion (Nigeria, Benin, Togo)
West African Vodun (Ghana, Benin, Togo, Nigeria)
Dogon religion (Mali)
Living in a diverse community requires all of us to conduct ourselves with respect and inclusion of people with different beliefs and lifestyles than we have. Undoubtedly, we will have interactions with people of other faiths. Many of these faiths, we will know little about. This lack of knowledge should not be the barrier to us connecting or building a relationship with our newfound acquaintances.
Knowledge and interaction are the key steps to building relationships with people of other faiths and cultures.
We work with DEI professionals to build strong and lasting relationships with people of diverse faiths within the workplace. Contact us
1. Endorsing religious stereotypes (i.e., when people make presumptions about religious minority groups). An example is when someone makes a joke about Muslim people being terrorists or Jewish people being cheap.
2. Pathology of different religious groups (i.e., when someone judges another religion as being inferior or substandard). For instance, when someone treats a non-Christian as a second-class citizen
Why: A person makes assumptions based on individual experience or stereotypical conditioning.
The Fix: We work with DEI professionals to identify and address offensive and insulting language within the workplace. Contact us